Rewards beefed up to combat guns in schools

Published: Aug. 4, 2017 at 10:31 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 11, 2017 at 12:13 PM CDT
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(Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News)

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Central Alabama CrimeStoppers is working to tackle the increase in teens committing crimes in the River Region.

This year, they're expanding their programs to in an effort to cut down on violence on and off school grounds and get guns out of the hands of kids.

The organization has several things in place this year to uncover important information for safer schools. Executive Director Tony Garrett outlined the programs at a training Friday for all MPS security guards.

Their existing scholastic tip line offers a $50 gift card to any student that turns in someone involved in activity that they think is a danger to the students or staff in their school.

"We have a tip line 215-STOP designated for the schools. Any students that witnesses a crime occurring on school grounds can call 215-STOP or go to Facebook and message us and remain anonymous," Garrett said.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and CrimeStoppers will be continuing a Gun Deterrent Initiative designed to keep illegal guns off school grounds for the upcoming 2017-2018 school year.

It started last year and offers $500.00 rewards for any tips about a gun on school grounds, including after school sanctioned events.

"We'll pay that student $500 for the confiscation of that gun," Garrett said.

This year in Montgomery County, a new gun reward is taking things a step further to cut down on incidents off school property.

In March, a student at Lee High School was struck in the neck by a stray bullet and severely injured. The weapon was fired from a nearby empty lot and a 16-year-old has been charged in the case. In May, a 14-year-old girl was shot and killed near Bellingrath Middle School just minutes after school let out. Another teenager has been charged with her murder.

In an effort to reduce the number of gun-related crimes being committed in Montgomery County by juveniles, District Attorney Daryl Bailey, Sheriff Derrick Cunningham, Montgomery Police Chief Ernest Finley, the City of Montgomery, Montgomery County Commission, the Central Alabama Community Foundation (CACF) and Central Alabama CrimeStoppers began a new "Gun Reward Initiative."

A $300 reward will be issued to anyone who provides information regarding a juvenile under the age of 18 that is in illegal possession of a firearm, and that firearm is found and seized by law enforcement.

Citizens are urged to call 911 or 215-STOP to report juveniles in possession of illegal guns.

"It's going to take all of us to step in and work with our kids. I'm looking for the kids to be more helpful and not to be scared to report things," said Brandon Bennett with MPS security.

"What we want to do this year is start off early. We want to make sure that the kids know these programs are in existence and they're available for any student and if you come to school with a gun, drugs or anything other than trying to learn, then we want you locked up and we want you kicked off our school properties," Garrett added.

Along with the gun initiative, students were responsible for turning in individuals with nine guns, four BB guns, five knives, one stun gun, and others who were involved in drug cases.

Tips also led to the arrest of suspects who were involved with a homicide investigation, terrorist threat, and robbery.

Information from students led officials to 25 criminal arrests and the clearance of 29 criminal cases on school grounds.

Within the past five years, CrimeStoppers' Scholastic Tip Line has resulted in 87 criminal arrests and the clearance of 122 criminal cases on school grounds in the River Region.

The $500.00 Gun Initiative is offered to every school system in the River Region, including Autauga, Crenshaw, Elmore, Lowndes, Macon, Montgomery, Pike, and Tallapoosa counties.

Copyright 2017 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.